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September Is Gospel Music Heritage Month

Gospel Music Heritage Foundation presents:

“The Evolution of Gospel”


Cathy Hughes is presented with the Gospel Music Heritage Living Legends Award by Carl Davis, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Jazzy Jordan during “The Evolution of Gospel” at the Kennedy Center 2011  (Photo by LaBelle & Associates)

By Sheilah Belle

Exclusive to TBR — Washington, D.C. (September 6, 2011) — In was June 2008 when Congress recognized September as Gospel Music Heritage Month, observing in its legislation that the message, rhythms, and melodies of Gospel music “can be traced to multiple and diverse influences and foundations, including African-American spirituals.”

The initiative was created by Gospel Music Channel, the country’s first and only 24/7 television network devoted to all forms of Gospel/Christian music. The initiative was publicly unveiled at The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY®s on the Hill event at the U.S. Capitol on June 18 with Gospel music advocate Carl Davis, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Gospel Music Channel founder and president Charles Humbard, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), president/CEO of The Recording Academy® Neil Portnow, and former Gospel Music Channel senior director of music development Alvin Williams..

Since that time, the initiative has grown with public celebrations held each year, along with a national celebratory concert and presentation at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Each year, the event continues to grow in status as it continues to press its way in becoming “thee event of the year to attend”, with similarities of the “Annual Kennedy Center Honors” starting to surface.

This year, in recognition of Gospel Music Heritage Month, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosted its 3rd Annual Celebration.

Entitled, Gospel Music Heritage Foundation presents: Evolution of Gospel, this year’s celebration included a star-studded, foot-stomping event that told the story of Gospel music through narration and song, beginning at the Middle Passage and winding up with highlights of contemporary Gospel music.

Special performances were given by Gospel artists Richard Smallwood, Kirk Franklin, Shawn McLemore, Marvin Sapp, Kathy Taylor, The Washington Performing Arts Society’s Men and Women of the Gospel Choir under the direction of Stanley Thurston and 7 Sons of Soul.

Giving a brief over view over the history of Gospel Music was Minister Howard Watson, who said, “In Gospel music we have found comfort knowing that Jesus is on our side.”  “In the 1930’s came Thomas A. Dorsey known as the Father of Gospel Music, singing songs like Precious Lord.  We have come so far since then, and we have much further to go, but now only steps from here, we can now pay tribute to a man who also knows Gospel music, Martin Luther King, where a monument now stands in honor of him,” he continue.  The crowd responded with a roaring applause.  “Gospel music gave us BeBe & CeCe Winans, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, V. Michael McKay, Marvin Sapp, Kirk Franklin, Deitrick Haddon and so many others.  What a mighty God we serve!”

During the evening, special honor and recognition were given to Cathy Hughes and Dr. Bobby Jones for their contributions to the preservation of Gospel music. They were also presented each with the Gospel Music Heritage Living Legends Award.

First Lady Michelle Obama was also given a Gospel Music Heritage Living Legends Award and special recognition; however she was unable to attend.

The Belle, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Verity Records Jazzy Jordan

Presenting the special awards were Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, CBC Sponsor, Verity Records; James “Jazzy” Jordan, Concert Co-Chair and Gospel Music Advocate Carl Davis.

The unforgettable evening was co-hosted by WYCB’s Winston Chaney and WHUR’s Sunday Morning host Jacquie Gales-Webb and took place, Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 6:30p.m.

The Annual Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration 2011: The Evolution of Gospel, sits under the leadership and the Foundation Chair of Gospel Music Advocate; Carl D. Davis, The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee and JamesJazzy” Jordan.

A special thank you also to AT & T, Washington Performing Arts Society, Ron L. Magnus and the Washington, D.C. Host Committee, Ernest Walker and Walker Entertainment Group, Minister Howard Watson, Ivy Davis Davis Levingston, Lyndsay Levingston, Alvin Williams, Sheilah Belle, The Belle Report, Catherine Dorsey, Kenney Taylor Donna Aron, Poet Laureate T.J. Wilkerson and Steven Smith.

Courtesy of